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01/18/2011 - Read Ellis Widner's full list on the Arkansas online website. #2 . John Mellencamp, On the Rural Route 7609, Island/ Mercury, four CDs, $99.99

This box, packaged like a hardcover book, captures the essence of John Mellencamp’s life and career. And its title? “I started making records in ’76, and the most recent track on the collection was done in ’09. So Rural Route 7609; it’s like an address. I thought it sounded cool,” Mellencamp told writer Anthony DeCurtis in the superb liner notes of this excellent retrospective, which focuses not on hits, but the key songs of his career.

“For anyone interested in finding the real John Mellencamp, this is where he’s been, and where he lives,” DeCurtis writes.

Couldn’t agree more. That is the key to understanding the music and the man, or misunderstanding both. Read More
12/29/2010 - This wasn't a plentiful year for CD and DVD box sets -- the kind of releases that make special holiday gifts for music fans. But there weren't many misses in this year's crop of releases, either. Read Alan Scully's full list on the Post Tribune.Here are the best of the bunch to my ears and eyes.

John Mellencamp: "On the Rural Route 7609" (Mercury/Island/UME) -- John Mellencamp has always been one of rock's true rebels. So it makes sense that he didn't make the typical career retrospective box set with "On the Rural Route 7609." Instead, he chose songs he felt best told his musical life story, mixing in a good number of alternate versions of familiar songs and lesser known, but illuminating, album tracks. What emerges is a portrait of an artist who grew from being a brash and generic young rocker into one of rock's most compelling songwriters, and an artist with plenty of insights into the human condition and life in America over the past 30 years. Read More
10/21/2010 - Read Mervyn Dendy's review of On The Rural Route 7609. Here are some excerpts: "On the Rural Route 7609 is a thought-provoking and, ultimately, brilliant collection of contemporary American music by a man who, in his fifties, is writing some of the strongest material of his career. As he matures artistically, Mellencamp is growing in stature as a songwriter and recording artiste..."

"not merely yet another box-set summary of a musician’s work: it is a timeless classic..." Read More
09/22/2010 - Read Robert B. Ker's review of On The Rural Route 7609 . Here is an excerpt: "showcases Mellencamp’s strengths—his knack for lyrical detail and an empathy for the working class..."
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09/01/2010 - Read Bob Gendron's of Tone Audio Magazine full On the Rural Route 7609 review. Here are some excerpts: "Chronicling change, delving into darkness, and pondering political consequence, it's a snapshot of an artist that embodies the Heartland's grounded aesthetic .."

"he's left an imprint that's much greater than those still associating him with "Pop Singer" could ever imagine. A bracing, riveting aural companion for modern times with a hardscrabble sound that suggest anything but..." Read More
08/14/2010 - Read NUVO's review of No Better Than This and On The Rural Route 7609 by Scott Shoger. Here is an excerpt: "Mellencamp and Burnett almost manage to retroject Mellencamp's work into the era which inspired it: His country shuffles and proto-rock tunes wouldn't sound too out of a place on a lost reel of Sun Studios outtakes, and a Robert Johnson inspired tune, "Right Behind Me," could have been cut by a country blues musician hot on Johnson's tail..." Read More
08/09/2010 - Read ArkansasOnline.com full review of On the Rural Route 7609 by Ellis Widner. Here is an excerpt:"Mellencamp’s sharp social observations, his heartfelt singing, his willingness to be tough and vulnerable, his plain-spoken style and his populist politics are amply displayed on this ambitious and perception-altering boxed set..." Read More
07/30/2010 - Writer Mark T. Gould devoted his August column to John and the passion that is at the root of his creative endeavor. We asked Mark, who has a "day job" as a Superior Court judge in Connecticut, to describe himself so you'd have some insight into the source of his brilliant think piece. His response: "I'm just a fan who believes in this country as much as John does..." Read More
07/28/2010 - On The Rural Route 7609 is a four CD set that chronicles, in a most unique way, the arc of John Mellencamp’s career, with a focus on his songwriting. Read More
07/25/2010 - Here are some excerpts from Jonathan Keller of Marquee Magazine On The Rural Route 7609 review.

"The set is perfectly packaged, well-compiled and does a magnificent job of showcasing Mellencamp’s songwriting chops, which have often been overlooked throughout his hit-laden career..." Read More
07/11/2010 -

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On The Rural Route 7609 is a four CD set that chronicles, in a most unique way, the arc of John Mellencamp’s career, with a focus on his songwriting. Universal Music Enterprises has set June 15th as the release date for the collection through its Mercury imprint. The package, unlike typical box sets that tend to slavishly offer a chronological presentation of hits and near-hits, is programmed as if each of the discs were a freestanding album. The 54 tracks included in the collection are presented, in essence, as four albums with songs juxtaposed in a manner that offers the listener the experience of hearing them in a context that sheds new light on the themes and artistry that have made Mellencamp’s music so c Read More
07/10/2010 - Gloriously packaged within the kind of book that other artists could only dream of (and a lot of publishers would do well to echo), “On The Rural Route 7609” is the career anthology that Mellencamp’s fans have been demanding for years. Read More
07/10/2010 - Here is an excerpt from Blurt Magazine On The Rural Route 7609 review by Lee Zimmerman:

"To his credit, he maintained his proficiency for stacking up the hits along the way -- good, sturdy songs that paid homage to the heartland and garnered him a loyal following that extended well beyond its bounds. Today, he's granted the same gravitas and import of purpose bestowed on Springsteen, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and other seasoned singers and songwriters who have been the voice of the Everyman, the disheartened and ignored. Like a modern day Woody Guthrie, he sings of simple truths from an unflinchingly blue-collar point of view..."

"On the Rural Route 7609 further defines its subject, not simply as a steady pop purveyor, but more importantly, as a weathered, old school troubadour, i.e., a populist rocker and a traveling preacher of sorts who rallies the masses by offering to sanctify their souls. It's not an actual anthology per se - no weight is given to chronological mile Read More
07/03/2010 - John Mellencamp took his sweet time putting together a retrospective of his career. And thankfully, he chose not to slap together a collection of greatest hits with a few outtakes and “bonus tracks.” Read More
07/02/2010 - In The Studio Profiles On The Rural Route 7609 Nationally syndicated radio show In The Studio with host Redbeard featured John's box set On The Rural Route 7609 on a recent episode. Read More
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